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The Idiot

Fyodor Dostoevsky


Part I, Chapters 15–16

page 1 of 2


Nastassya Filippovna tells the maid to invite Rogozhin and his company into the drawing room. The guests look at one another in amazement. General Yepanchin tries to leave, but Nastassya Filippovna persuades him to stay. The general and Totsky briefly exchange the opinion that she may be going insane. Two additions to Rogozhin's rowdy company of lowlifes include a boxer, an ex-editor of a newspaper, and a sub-lieutenant whom the others call a beggar. Rogozhin, overcome with veneration for Nastassya Filippovna from the moment he enters her apartment, places a thick package on the table, saying it contains 100,000 rubles.

Nastassya Filippovna begins a long, emotionally intense speech. She notes her disbelief at the fact that Ganya could possibly want her after she has accepted the general's pearls and has been the object of Rogozhin's bargaining. She says she was foolish to think she could enter an honorable family such as Ganya's. He was willing to let her do so only because he would do virtually anything for money. Nastassya Filippovna then turns to Totsky and tells him that she has been living in anger and spite for him. She describes how he visited her when she was a young girl, slept with her, and then left. She says she could have married him but decided he was not worth her anger. She decided she would rather live on the streets, a more proper place for a woman such as herself. She exclaims that no one would take her now.

Ferdyshchenko says Prince Myshkin would take her, and the latter agrees. The prince stands up and proposes to her, calling her an honest woman and saying she does not deserve all the blame she has received. He then announces that he has money to support her because he just received news of a large inheritance. The guests are amazed.

After Ptitsyn corroborates the legitimacy of the letter, everyone is so shocked by the news that they practically forget about Nastassya Filippovna, which drives her in utter delirium. She agrees to marry Myshkin, who assures her that she should not blame herself for what happened between her and Totsky. However, she exclaims that the prince deserves to marry a respectable woman, someone like Aglaya Yepanchin, and that she, Nastassya Filippovna, will leave with Rogozhin. Though she has always dreamt of someone like Myshkin, she says she does not belong with him.

Before Nastassya Filippovna leaves, she decides to pay Ganya back for all the suffering he has caused her. She throws the package of 100,000 rubles into the fireplace; once it has caught fire, she says that only Ganya can go and get it if he is willing. Ganya faints. Nastassya Filippovna retrieves the money, saying that Ganya's vanity is clearly stronger than his avarice. Ganya then announces that the package is his, and he leaves. The prince runs off after them.

Totsky and Ptitsyn briefly discuss what has happened. Ptitsyn compares Nastassya Filippovna's actions to an old Japanese custom in which the offended punishes his offender by committing suicide right in front of his face. Totsky replies that with Nastassya Filippovna's beauty and extraordinary character, it is a shame that all is lost.

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by LittleLandmine, December 26, 2014

The young prince is supposed to symbolize the good. The image of "Christ", the kindness at his own expense. Though because of his epilepsy everyone takes advantage of his naiiveness, and he is looked at like an idiot. So I believe since Fyodor had epilepsy himself he was aware of the losing of knowledge, that can make one feel stupid, hence "the idiot." I know from having many seizures that over time they do affect our brain in various ways. I am not the only one to feel that way, but I never thought any book could incorporate that feeling a... Read more


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